Local Business, City Assisting At Charles Pointe

Toothman Rice Involved In Multi-million Dollar Project

The Bridgeport News

by Jeff Toquinto, NEWS EDITOR

Bridgeport (Thursday, October 2, 2003

When the scope of the Charles Pointe development began evolving, it became obvious to its backers help would be needed outside the local area. In fact, it was determined that help would be needed from some of the country’s – and in fact, the world’s – biggest hitters in real estate, marketing, finance and development.

Several years later, firms with impeccable national reputations and resumes are on board. Many of those groups will be responsible for making a planned community that was announced in 2000 and covering nearly 2,000 acres along Interstate 79 a reality.

"As this grew, we knew we wouldn’t be able to do everything here," said Jamie Corton, the managing partner of Genesis Partners, which serves as the site’s overall developer. "But, we are tapping into local resources."

Among those local resources is one highly respected, and very new, Bridgeport business. Toothman Rice PLLC, a certified public accounting firm that recently moved its hub of operations to Johnson Avenue, is handling the books and several other financial details for the proposed $750 million project.

"Certainly, I believe it’s a feather in our cap," said Thomas L. Aman, a city resident and the managing member of Toothman Rice. "It’s probably safe to say (Genesis Partners) was a little skeptical on the front end wondering if this is something we could handle. As we participated in numerous meetings in a fairly short time early on, I think they developed a good bit of confidence that this is something we can handle."

It should be noted that Toothman Rice is no stranger to Charles "Jim" Compton, the late coal entrepreneur for whom Charles Pointe is named. Aman said Toothman Rice has done business with the Company family for decades.

Aman said it also should be noted that his company is no stranger to multi-million dollar projects. In fact, they’ve traveled similar business roads before.

"We’ve been involved with projects of similar scope before and are involved with projects of this magnitude currently," said Aman.

Corton sang the praises of the efforts of Toothman Rice at a recent briefing on the status of Charles Pointe. He also singled out the efforts of Jim Harris, an attorney with the Clarksburg-based law firm of Waters, Warner & Harris, PLLC.

Additional praise from Corton came on his group’s relationship with the city of Bridgeport. That sentiment was shared by the others in the room, including the lead marketing group, the planners involved with infrastructure and zoning, and the financiers.

"Everything involved is so intertwined," said Jack R. Norris, the chairman and chief executive officer of CB Richard Ellis/Pittsburgh, which is a subsidiary of the world’s largest commercial real estate firm. "You can’t do something like this without the cooperation of the local government. From my perspective, the working relationship with the city of Bridgeport has been very good."

That, according to Bridgeport City Manager Kim Haws, was music to the municipality’s ears.

"That’s a wonderful statement for us because when you hear that, you know your efforts have paid off as far as making a hospitable climate for development," said Haws. "As slow as development happens, it’s difficult to know if what you’re doing makes a difference. When you hear that, it encourages us to stay on our path and reinforce our `efforts."

While those involved are hopeful the first project – which will likely involve a hotel and perhaps a city-built conference center – start this spring, they also believe the project will go ahead as planned, and will eventually involve more area companies and workers.

"Everything Mr. Compton did he did the right way," said Corton. "We wouldn’t jeopardize any of that by selling this vision short."